A Taser is a Deadly Weapon

State v. Carter, No. 116,223 (Kan. Mar. 6, 2020).

Issue: Is a taser a “deadly weapon” within the meaning of Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4902(e)(2)?

Answer: Yes, a taser is a “deadly weapon” because a taser could be used in a deadly manner.

Facts: In May 2015, Tabitha Carter robbed a Wichita Dollar General while brandishing a taser.  A jury convicted Carter of armed robbery.  At the sentencing hearing, the district court held that Carter had a duty to register as a “violent offender” under the Kansas Offender Registration Act because she committed a personal felony with a “deadly weapon”: the taser.  

Discussion: The Kansas Supreme Court conducted a three-part analysis. First, the district court judge had made an oral finding that there was a “dangerous weapon” involved and a journal entry of Carter’s use of a “deadly weapon.”  The Kansas Supreme Court found the journal entry controlling.  Second, to interpret the statute, the court used Black’s Law Dictionary, caselaw, and taser functionality to find that a taser falls within the statutory definition of a “deadly weapon.” The Kansas Supreme Court stated that, though a taser is “less lethal” than a firearm, it is still capable of causing death. Finally, the court found that “use” of the taser included brandishing the taser to cause fear, which helped complete the crime.

Key Authorities:

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4902(e)(2) (2020).

State v. Thomas, 415 P.3d 430 (Kan. 2018) (finding a high heel shoe fits the definition of “deadly weapon”).

Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137 (1995) (finding “use” of a firearm requires more than mere possession).

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